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What's this Worth

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Art Hamm

Guest
I need to know the value of a 1907 stationary Corliss steam engine. It is in working condition. The flywheel is 16 feet diameter. It is 260 Hp with a 20 inch piston and 48 inch stroke. Anyone know how much it would sell for???
 
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Allen

Guest
Depending where it was located, I can think of a couple clubs that would give you a tax write off for scrap value if you decided to donate it,
 
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Jim Mackessy

Guest
Hi Art;

This is truly a case of it's being worth whatever the buyer and seller can agree to. On a small engine that can go home on a trailer and travel to shows on same, the value is higher. On a large engine, rigging, transport, disassembly and reassembly all need to be considered. Also, what is your definition of "running condition"? Has it run recently, or has it been sitting, (possibly with the cylinder full of water) for 20+ years? Is it apart, and if so, are all the pieces there and are they identified so they can be reassembled properly? I've seen a nice Corliss girder frame engine partially apart listed for $5000.00. It's still sitting, the flywheel is half underwater. I have also seen engines available for free get scrapped because they could not be removed without tearing the roof off the building they were in unless they were cut up. So, it depends...JM
 
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harvey teal

Guest
Art, the cost to dismantle, rig, move, and erect something like this PROPERLY will easily be into five figures. Once the engine has been dismantled and removed from its original foundation, it is essentially scrap iron unless somebody wants to spend tens of thousands to get it back to service. Consider the cost of excavation and concrete to establish the appropriate foundation, and the time to allow the foundation to cure, settle, shrink before installation. And having made that investment, you HAVE to construct a building over it to protect your investment. And we haven't even discussed the cost of the steam plant, if the engine will be expected to run again. Who wants to invest $40,000 or more in that engine? Only a club/museum with lots of cash or a private owner with lots of cash could do it justice. The best remedy for the engine might be to convince the owner(s) to create a museum/display in the engine's current location, perhaps with some co-funding and volunteer labor from an interested club/museum. It breaks my heart to see these lovely old machines disappear. The sad truth is that once they are removed from their original setting, their chance for survival is less than one percent. Where is the engine located?
 
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Roy Pasini

Guest
Major factory-powering engines are neat static displays, but relocation dollars and cents aside, the main purpose of an engine is to run, and with the exception of a factory owner who has a large enough boiler or supersized air compressor, running the big ones is absolutely out of the question for mortal collectors. Therefore their value plummets. In reality, they are worth their scrap price. A tiny model engine is worth more than a giant. Sad, but true. Anything the size of an oilfield engine or larger is worthless on the market. There was a GIANT on ebay that got bid to the astounding sum of $500. They are wonderfull sculpture if you want them for that purpose, but the market wants what it can run, regardless of its rarity or historical importance. The bigger they are, the fewer the bidders who can either store or run them.
 
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Art Hamm

Guest
Hello Steamers;

First of all, thank you for your responses and comments. Your notes have been very helpful. To answer some of the questions - The engine was last run in 1998. Before that it was started once a month for years. There are no parts removed except for the piping between the boiler and the shut off valve. Also the output drive shaft is off the flywheel. I can appreciate the cost for dismantling - this is 30 tons of cast iron and steel - it would not be an easy job. It's in Ontario in an old factory slated for demolition. If dismantling, transportion, new foundation, and reassembly were not a problem and not in the cost - what do you think the appraised value and possibly the original value is for this magnificent work horse? Also, while we're on the subject, there is a large dynamo (lots of copper) turned by a compound engine with piston valve. Any suggested value for that beauty? Art
 
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Jim Mackessy

Guest
Hi Art; If you want to save this thing, you will need a lot of determination and a little luck. I volunteer at a local town park and museum. The reason that I do is that they agreed to let myself and a friend rescue a large corliss engine and set it up there as a running display. I had known about it since the seventies, and when the building was slated for demolition we asked to see it to document it. We were told to"get our proposal to save it in quickly, as the time was right"! We did so, and 4 years later we have a 450 hp Corliss engine in a heated building, with a 100 hp boiler to slowly turn it over. We expect to open this summer. This engine weighs over 31 tons, and a lot of those tons were carried out of a factory basement by hand truck and winch. We have spent about $15,000.00 on this project, mostly from scrap steel, bottle and can deposits, and a few private donations. It can be done, but it is not easy. I can tell you more, but for the sake of space I'll leave it at that for now. If you can get an engine club involved, people from all over will come help to save it, plus you need some form of organization for insurance and as a vehicle for donations.-JM


Park website,click on steam engine
 
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Harvey Teal

Guest
Art: The only real value of the engine is scrap metal at this point. If you were a scrap dealer, you would estimate the value at the junkyard, subtract your labor, rigging, insurance, and hauling expenses, allow some margin for profit, and make an offer to the owner substantially less than the junkyard price. In this case, my approach would be to ask the owner to donate the engine to you or your club, and he might thus be able to write off that value as a charitable donation against his taxes. Alternatively, you can offer him a few more bucks than the scrap man will. If the building is slated for demolition, there don't seem to be many other choices. Hopefully you will be allotted enough time to dismantle and rig the parts. With a bit of luck they could take the roof off first, allowing the frame and flywheel to be picked with a crane. I would definitely remove and rig the flywheel separately, preferably in halves if the flywheel is a split type. 16 foot wheels don't transport well standing up, and they tend to be a bit wide when lying down.
 
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Brian Manning

Guest
Art: I hate to admit it but these old steamers are really worth scrap price at best. They are wonderful machines to work on, and amazing to watch as they turn over ever so slowly. The look of astonishment and bewiderment on the faces of the people watching as they try and figure out the valve gear is worth all the work involved. BUT, there has to be the long term commitment for money and labour, covered storage area, operating boiler, licences, utilities, etc., At pioneer Acres Museum [ www.pioneracres.ab.ca] we have rebuilt 2 large engines and working on 3 more for this year. Best to try and find a society or club that would have the space and time to erect the engine properly. Try Lavis Contracting in Clinton, Ontario. They had a Corlis engine that came out of the old Serlock-Manning piano factory in Clinton. They had it on a flat deck trailer with its own boiler and water tank. It used to go around to the shows in Blyth, Sarnia,and Brigden. As far as the 2cyl engine, is it a Bellis and Morcom? If so I have rebuit a 190bhp 2 years ago. They are a very technical built engine, as they were a high speed, 575-600 rpm, but still a beauty to work on. Had an old service tech tell me that as a dyno they were accurate to .1% Never get a turbine to be that good! The engine sat out in a field along with 8 more for over 20 years, oil pump was busted with the frost, as well as the rain and snow had taken its toll on it. Bought it for $1000 Can. and put about another $2000 into it, but it runs great. Good luck with the engine.
 
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Art Hamm

Guest
Steamers;

To all of you that responsed, my sincerest thanks. I have learned much and I will study more for I believe these mechanical marvels should always be preserved. I will keep you posted.

Art
 
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Jeff Wahl

Guest
I'm going to have to refer to the aforementioned Kruse auction I wrote about earlier and attended last weekend in North Caroline. Up for sale was a Hardie-Tynes Mfg Co. 200HP steam engine, which I guess had a Corliss Patent of 1908. Looked like a really nice setup. The ebay auction link says that it went for $7500.00, but I noticed many of the prices listed on the website are wrong and items actually sold for more. Don't know if the steamer you're looking at is similar, but is $7500.00 scrap money? If so, I'd sure like to have some more scrap money!
 
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Harvey Teal

Guest
Jeff: Obviously somebody has taken the trouble to deinstall, haul, clean up and reassemble this engine into a transportable package. Believe me, to take a typical factory engine of this size out of its original location and to move it/set it up witout damage, and get it to the condition that this engine appears to be in, you could easily be looking at $5000 worth of work. Don't forget the frenzy at this kind of auction, either, and the commissions for selling and buying. Nice piece, but I'd still offer scrap price for it if it was in the original factory......
 
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Jeff Wahl

Guest
I agree with the costs of removing, etc. You might pay more up front, but at least you can maybe get something for it if you ever decide to sell. I guess one might say that it isn't worth trying to buy this item for a quick resell, because moving costs would destroy any profit. But I would still consider it a piece worth saving. I've seen lots of people waste more time and money on things not nearly as nice as a steamer like this. To each their own, Jeff
 
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harvey teal

Guest
Yeah, it really breaks my heart to see anything like this scrapped. There still are many of these factory engines in good condition, inside their original factories and when you see them all hooked up and almost ready to run, somehow you feel compelled to work extra diligently to not damage them during handling. As opposed to finding an incomplete engine lying on a stone wall, etc, in which case the new owner might be less careful in handling the engine. The more carefully you handle them, the more it costs..... I had a quote from a crane operator to pick a 10 ton engine through a roof, to avoid damage to the engine and nearby equipment. $10000 for the crane job and $5000 for roof work. I'm not sure what the potential resale value of these big engines would be. Given the amount of work and expense to move one and set them up properly, they really belong under the stewardship of a museum or club; that is, unless the owner is extremely wealthy and just has to have his own engine.......
 
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